The Trial of Saddam Hussein and The Fallout of The War

The Trial of Saddam Hussein


The fallout in the Middle East from the regime change in Iraq

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Chilcot Inquiry Rigged

It appears, according to a leaked cable from Wikileaks, that the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war has been rigged from the outset by the British government.

The leaked cable reveals that the British government secretly promised to limit the scope of the Iraq war inquiry to protect US interests.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Iraq Runs Out Of Money

Despite being an oil wealthy nation, it appears that Iraq has run out of money to pay for widows' benefits, farm crops and other programs for the poor.

Ironically there have been sufficient funds to pay members of the Iraqi parliament $100K each, for meeting four times since the election in March.

Notwithstanding that largess, it seems that the $1BN social care budget for 2010 has been used up.

The question that everyone is asking is, where has that money actually gone?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Death Sentence Commuted?

President Jalal Talabani of Iraq has told France 24 television that he won't sign the death penalty sentence against Tarik Aziz, who was sentenced to death last month.

President Talabani says that he feels "compassion" for Aziz, as Aziz is both "a Christian" and over 70 years old.

Does this mean the sentence has really been commuted, or postponed until the President can be "persuaded" to change his mind or leaves office?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Agreement Unravels

It seems that the political agreement between squabbling factions in Iraq's parliament, made on Thursday, has started to unravel.

The Sunnis have staged a walkout on the pretext of the failure of parliament to actually cast a vote on the power sharing agreement.

It seems that I was wrong when I said (tongue in cheek) yesterday that the agreement was the "easy bit". Clearly there is yet to be an agreement!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Agreement Reached?

Some 250 days after the Iraq general election (a world record) it seems that an agreement may finally have been reached between the politicians as to forming a government in Iraq.

A unity government will be formed, headed by the incumbent prime minister (Nouri al-Maliki).

That's the easy bit, now all the politicians have to do is govern the country!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bush's Claims Backfire

Former President George Bush's claims that "waterboarding" garnered valuable intelligence that saved lives have been disputed in the UK.

Lord MacDonald, former Director of Public Prosecutions, said:

"These stories about waterboarding thwarting attacks on Canary Wharf and Heathrow - I've never seen anything to substantiate these claims.

These claims are to be treated with a great deal of scepticism

Legal experts are also of the view that, having sanctioned the interrogation technique, Bush could be arrested for breaking international law if he travels abroad.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Bush Defends Waterboarding

The Guardian quotes former President Bush as defending the technique of "waterboarding" (now banned under President Obama) terrorist suspects:

"I knew an interrogation programme this sensitive and controversial would one day become public. When it did, we would open ourselves up to criticism that America had compromised our moral values. I would have preferred that we get the information another way. But the choice between security and values was real.

Their interrogations helped break up plots to attack American diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf in London, and multiple targets in the United States.

There is much debate as to whether (morality aside) techniques such as this actually produce any real information that actually saves lives.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

That "Sickening Feeling"

Former US president George Bush is set to publish an autobiography ("Decision Points") in which he admits to having a "sickening feeling" wrt the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Bush still believes that the invasion of Iraq was justified, saying that "the Iraqi people are better off with a government that answers to them instead of torturing and murdering them".

All very well, but the reality is that 241 days since the Iraq election the people of Iraq still do not have a government!

Bush seems to have conveniently ignored that point.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Taking The Piss

Those of you who think that MEP's are paid far too much, for doing "sweet F A" in the European Parliament, should bear in mind what Iraq's MPs are up to (or rather not up to).

Iraq, the dubious title holder of the country with the longest gap between an election and the formation of a government (240 days and counting), pays its MPs £180K) per annum

To date, since there is still no government, the MPs have "worked" for only 20 minutes ("work" being a Quranic reading, the playing of the national anthem and the swearing-in of new members) since their election in March and have not passed a single law.

Once out of office, they will get 80% of their salary for life.

Taking the piss or what?

Is this really what the "war for democractisation of Iraq" was all about?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Thanks, But No Thanks

Despite entering the record books as being the country that has remained without a government for the longest period since an election, it seems that the political parties in Iraq are still no closer to forming a government.

Iraq's Shiite alliance has turned down an offer, extended by Saudi Arabia to host all party talks aimed at ending the months long political deadlock.

239 days and counting!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tariq Aziz

The death sentence of the former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, has drawn international condemnation (with the exception of the USA, who refer to it as an "internal matter" for Iraq).

Haven't enough people died already as a result of this misguided war?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Once More Unto The Breach

It seems that Tony Blair faces a recall to the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war, as it appears that Blair's recent memoirs highlight "inconsistencies" with the evidence he gave to the inquiry during his last appearance.

Blair is likely to appear again at the inquiry early next year.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dr Kelly's Post Mortem Report Released

In order to end the speculation over the death in 2003 of Dr David Kelly (the Iraq arms expert), the government has released the post mortem report that had originally been sealed for 70 years.

The report blamed his death on blood loss after cuts to his left wrist, aided by a painkiller overdose and "silent" heart disease.

The report confirms Lord Hutton's verdict that Dr Kelly committed suicide.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Closing The Stable Door

The irony of the UK defence cuts, announced by the government this week, is that the armed forces will no longer be able to embark on "Iraq style invasions".

Had that invasion not been sanctioned by Labour it would have saved lives and many billions of pounds, thus lessening the effects of this week's cuts.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Last Chance for Democracy

Despite the Iraq invasion being sold to the public as being for the "democratisation" of Iraq, it seems that "democracy" is still having trouble taking route in that wrecked country.

Ninevah provincial Gov. Atheel al-Nujaifi (a Sunni) issued a warning over the weekend that "last chance for democracy" could be derailed, if Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (a Shiite) retains power by making alliances with hardline Shiite factions and Kurds.

Democracy cannot be enforced on a country by outsiders with the barrel of a gun, the citizens of that country have to be left to find their own path to democracy.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Iraq Breaks a Record

It is sad to read that Iraq, the country that was "saved" from dictatorship by the Iraq war, has broken a record.

Today it will have spent 208 days, since its general election, still trying to form a government (without any success).

That is a world record!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

You Voted For It!

Kudos to David Miliband for admonishing Harriet Harmon for clapping Ed Miliband's "rejection" of the Iraq war.

As David said to Harmon:

"Why are you clapping?

You voted for it

Ex Cabinet members cannot wiggle out of collective responsibility for the war so easily.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Britain Has Regrets

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, will tell the UN today that Britain has regrets about the Iraq war.

He will say:

"In recent years we have learned – in some cases the hard way – that democracy cannot be created by diktat.

Freedom cannot be commanded into existence


I have said many times before that democracy cannot be imposed via the barrel of a gun, and that shouting "Yee Hah!" is not an effective tool of foreign policy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fantasy Merchants

It seems that George W. Bush and his advisers focused on toppling Saddam Hussein as soon as Bush took office, and discussed how to justify a war in Iraq.

AFP report that Donald Rumsfeld, US Defence Secretary in 2001, said before the invasion of Iraq:

"If Saddam's regime were ousted, we would have a much-improved position in the region and elsewhere."

What planet were these people living on?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Known and Unknown

I see that Donald Rumsfeld, George W Bush's ex Defence Secretary, is planning to publish his memoirs (entitled "Known and Unknown") in January 2011.

Doubtless these will correct any misunderstandings that people may have about him and the Iraq war.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Prison Without Trial

The BBC have a video report about the following:

"A report by the human rights group, Amnesty International, says that tens of thousands of people in Iraq are being detained in prisons without trial.

It says many of the detainees are being held for years often facing psychological and violent abuse.

Isn't that one of the reasons Saddam was overthrown?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Colonel Tim Collins, of the Royal Irish Regiment, has told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the UK government and military leaders had "absolutely no idea" what to do in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq.

He was quoted by the Press Association:

"I don't think anybody had any idea why it was we were going to do this.

I rather thought that there would be some sort of plan and the Government had thought this through and I was clearly wrong.

When I gave my now notorious talk to the Royal Irish, I was trying to rationalise for those young men what was going on from my standpoint. As it turned out, it had a wider appeal because nobody had any idea why this was happening.

It became very apparent to me shortly after crossing the border that the Government and many of my superiors had no idea what they were doing.

There was no preparation. They had absolutely no idea what to do. We turned up, took away a country's infrastructure and its law and order with absolutely nothing to put in its place.

An excellent analysis of the failings of the Iraq misadventure!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Blair Cancels Book Launch Party

In the event that anyone is actually interested, Tony Blair has "postponed" a launch party for his memoirs at London's Tate Modern museum planned for today, after anti-war protesters threatened to target the event.

Party or not, these cancellations certainly give the book extra publicity.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Blair Cancels Book Signing

Following the PR debacle in Dublin where former prime minister Tony Blair attempted to attend a book signing event for his newly launched memoirs ("A Journey"), but was rewarded with a pelting of eggs, he has bowed out of a planned signing in London after protesters threatened to target it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blackwater Fined

The BBC reports that the private defence company Blackwater has been fined $42M for violating US export and arms traffic laws.

The nearly 300 breaches include the export of illegal weapons to Afghanistan and the unauthorised training of foreign nationals.

The settlement means that Blackwater, now known as XE Services, will be able to bid for government contracts.

"XE has not commented on the settlement of this case. But its directors have recently stressed that XE is a different company to Blackwater, having implemented a number of management and procedural changes."

So that's alright then!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Last Combat Troops Leave

The last US combat troops have left Iraq, seven-and-a-half years after the US led invasion.

At the end of August there will be 50,000 US troops serving in Iraq, as Iraqi security forces take responsibility for securing their country.

As to what happens then, we shall see.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Some debate has been stirred up over the "morality" of the British Legion accepting the biggest donation in its history from Tony Blair, who has promised to donate all the proceeds, including the £4.6M advance, from his memoirs.

There is also speculation as to the rationale for Blair's gift; guilt, penance?

However, one thing is clear, his financial circumstances must now be very solid for him to be able to contemplate giving away such a large sum of money.

He will of course receive tax relief on this donation (estimated by the media at being around £2M on the advance fee alone).

Friday, August 06, 2010

Leaving Iraq To The Wolves

Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein's former deputy, has accused the US president of "leaving Iraq to the wolves" as a resulkt of the decision to withdraw combat troops during a period of increasing violence.

Aziz told The Guardian that the United States should stay in Iraq, in order to correct the mistakes it had made since the 2003 invasion.

"We are all victims of America and Britain.

They killed our country in many ways. When you make a mistake you need to correct a mistake, not leave Iraq to its death

He went on to say:

"For 30 years Saddam built Iraq and now it is destroyed. There are more sick than before, more hungry.

The people don't have services. People are being killed every day in the tens, if not hundreds.

I was encouraged when [US President Barack Obama] was elected president, because I thought he was going to correct some of the mistakes of Bush. But Obama is a hypocrite. He is leaving Iraq to the wolves.

Aziz was jailed for 15 years in 2009 for murder, and given a seven-year term in August 2009 for his role in expelling Kurds from Iraq's north.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Mission Not Accomplished

President Barack Obama has confirmed that he will honour his pledge to end all combat operations in Iraq by 31 August.

However, he has stated that 50,000 of 65,000 US troops currently in Iraq will remain until the end of 2011, as "advisers" and protect US interests.

Wisely, given that Iraq is still in turmoil, President Obama did not claim that this was "Mission Accomplished!".

However, whilst troops may be being pulled out of Iraq, more troops (some 30,000 extra) are being sent to Afghanistan.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Army Almost Seized Up

General Sir Richard Dannatt, former head of the British army, told the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war that Tony Blair's decision to send troops to Helmand at the same time as they were in Iraq almost caused the army to seize up.

He said:

"I think we were getting quite close to a seizing-up moment in 2006."

The politicians let the troops down by placing them in an almost impossible position during this period, the consequences of this negligence are still being felt today.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Iraq High

Dr Hans Blix, former UN weapons inspector, has told the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war that the US and UK didn't feel that they needed "a permission slip" from the security council:

"The US in 2002...I think they were high on military at the time. They said 'we can do it'

They thought they could get away with it so they decided to do it

The lesson here is don't start wars when "high".

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Low Standards

Carne Ross, the UK's Iraq expert at the United Nations from 1997 to 2002, has a poor opinion of the quality of the questioning at the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war.

Ross told the BBC that chairman Sir John Chilcot was running a "narrow" investigation, with the standard of questioning "pretty low".

He went on to say that the Chilcot inquiry was not doing enough to ensure it got a full picture of events.

"The other government witnesses are giving a partial view... I think that the standard of interrogation by the panel is pretty low. The level of questioning is very easygoing.

In particular my greatest concern is that witnesses are not being challenged on the contradictions between what they are saying to the panel and what's in the documents

These allegations are nothing new, from the very outset journalists have been saying that witnesses have been given a very easy time by Chilcot.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Quel Surprise!

Baroness Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5, has told the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war that the invasion of Iraq "substantially" increased the terrorist threat to the UK and has "radicalised" a generation of young people in the UK and abroad.

She stated that a year before the war she had advised the government that the threat posed by Iraq to the UK was "very limited".

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wilful Ignorance

The Guardian reports that a report "A State of Ignorance" issued by Action On Armed Violence (AOAV, formerly Landmine Action) shows that Labour ministers and officials bent over backwards to avoid engaging with the issue of how many people were killed in Iraq, except to try to confuse it.

The Guardian describe it as "wilful ignorance".

Now that Labour have their hands off the levers of power, more revelations will come out.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blair Accused of Lying

Carne Ross, the first secretary to the British mission at the U.N. responsible for Iraq policy from 1997 to 2002, told the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war that the British government intentionally exaggerated the threat of Iraq's WMD after the 9/11 attacks.

Ross said that documents issued by the British government "intentionally and substantially" exaggerated the intelligence after 9/11.

Ross stated that the documents were so exaggerated that they were "in their totality, lies."

Thursday, July 08, 2010


Sir Richard Dalton, Britain's ambassador in Tehran from 2003-06, has told the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war that both the UK and US misread the intentions of Iran in the run up to the war.

Blair and Bush pushed the line that Iran would be hostile to the Iraq venture, when in fact Iran wanted the venture to succeed in order for a stable government to be formed and to ensure that US troops did not remain too long in the area.

Sir Richard said that Blair made "a series of very bad decisions" about the legality of the 2003 invasion.

Blair told Chilcot in January:

"What happened in the end was that they did because they both had a common interest in destabilising the country, and for Iran I think the reason they were interested in destabilising Iraq was because they worried about having a functioning majority Shia country with a democracy on their doorstep."

Sir Richard contradicted this:

"From what I saw of his evidence, I thought he very much exaggerated this factor."

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Goldsmith's Advice To Blair Published

The Chilcot Iraq inquiry has released details of the legal advice given to Tony Blair, from the then Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, prior to the invasion of Iraq.

In the released correspondence (dated February 12 2003), Lord Goldsmith told Blair that should military action be taken without further approval by the UN Security Council, he expected "the government to be accused of acting unlawfully".

In a letter to Blair on 30 January, 2003, Lord Goldsmith said he "remained of the view that the correct legal interpretation of resolution 1441 is that it does not authorise the use of military force without a further determination by the Security Council".

However, following Blair's meeting with Bush in 2003 (when Blair promised Bush that Britain would go to war) Goldsmith changed his view. The BBC quotes him as saying he was "prepared to accept that a reasonable case" could be made that military action was authorised by existing resolutions, including resolution 1441.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chilcot To Resume

The Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war will resume its hearings after a four and a half month break.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Cover Up

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Brown "Misspoke"

I see that Gordon Brown "misspoke" during his recent appearance before the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war, when he claimed that defence spending had increased in "real terms" each year under Labour.

It transpires that it hasn't!

Brown has written to Chilcot to clarify his "error".

I wonder if he "misspoke" about other matters?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The World According To Miliband

The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, told the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war that the UK's involvement in the war has earned it respect in the Middle East.

Miliband is of the belief that many Arab countries now respected Britain more since the war.

What planet does Miliband actually reside upon?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Brown Appears Before Chilcot

Gordon Brown is currently appearing before the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war.

Brown says that the war was right, but that he regrets he wasn't able to persuade the Americans to be more organised wrt the post invasion construction.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Spaced Out

Andrew Rawnsley's book, "The End of The Party", is published today. In it he claims that Tony Blair was so tormented by the failure in Iraq that he told Gordon Brown and John Prescott that he would resign in 2004.

The book alleges that he "spaced out" several times during Parliamentary appearances, and often woke up sweating in the night.

Blair was talked out of resigning by his wife and Lord Mandelson.

Monday, February 15, 2010

AWB To Settle Class Action

AWB Ltd, the Australian wheat exporter that paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein, has agreed to pay $35M to settle the class action against it brought by shareholders in Australia.

Three class actions against the company in the USA have been dismissed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ballot To See Brown

Those who want to watch Gordon Brown's appearance before the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war will have to enter a ballot.

He will appear before the inquiry in early March.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Defined By Iraq

Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former spin doctor, had a minor "emotional" moment on the Andrew Marr show yesterday when questioned about Iraq.

Campbell needed some moments pause in order to compose himself.

In his view Blair is "a totally honourable man".

Later Cambpell complained to Sky News about having to talk about Iraq:

"I did get quite upset with Andrew [Marr] this morning. I feel sometimes we are treated in this media bubble... like somehow you are devoid of humanity – you don't really have feelings, you don't really care about things.

I know how much I care about it, I know how much Tony Blair cares about it

What did he expect?

Campbell's and Blair's lives will be forever defined by Iraq, nothing they ever do in the future will ever free them from that millstone around their necks.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain's former ambassador in the US, has given Tony Blair a very publicy drubbing in an interview with The Independent.

Sir Christopher says that Blair, and his closest advisers, have used their evidence to the Iraq inquiry to smear those criticising the decision to taken Britain to war.

He noted that "turning on opposition was the modus operandi of the Blair administration".

"You turn on dissent, you distort the argument, you claim the other person has said something they never said, and then you seek to discredit it.

It's not only me that has had some of this.

It is their modus operandi.

Smear and smokescreen

Sir Christopher was also not impressed with Blair's obsession with invading Iran:

"Blair's strategic approach to his evidence seemed to be a kind of double or quits.

In other words, it was to say no regrets, I'd do it again, and by the way if I was Prime Minister I'd do Iran also.

It's nonsense about Iran.

The strategic beneficiary of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq has been Iran. It has enhanced the position of Iran in the region, there is no doubt about it at all.”

The fact that Blair has entrenched the idea that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were cut from the same cloth was extraordinary.

We've always known that Saddam Hussein had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 and didn't like al-Qaeda

Sir Christopher uses the polite phrase "sub-contracted" wrt Blair allowing Bush to make the decision about war, ie he is saying that Blair had in effect become a poodle of Bush.

It is a pity that all the now so very vocal critics of the war, who were in positions of power during the run up to war, did not speak up and come forward at the time.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Pants on Fire

It seems that Tony Blair's hopes of trying to put Iraq behind him, have been quashed once again.

Sir John Chilcot is to recall Blair to reappear before the inquiry into Iraq. Apparently there are some questions over Blair's testimony, when he appeared at the inquiry last week, conflicting with that given by other witnesses such as Lord Goldsmith and Lord Boyce.

Blair will go to his grave being hounded for his decision to go to war.

That is the price he will pay for believing that the war was "just" from a religious standpoint.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Cabinet Misled

Unsurprisingly Claire Short, during her appearance at the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war, pulled no punches when it came to trying to put the boot into Tony Blair.

She said that Blair "and his mates" decided war was necessary, and "everything was done on a wing and a prayer".

That seems to be a pretty fair assessment.

She didn't have many kind words for the former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, either:

"I think he misled the cabinet. He certainly misled me, but people let it through."

Her "principled" stand is somewhat let down by the fact that she stayed in the cabinet after the war had started, relying on the promise by Blair that she would have a major role in the reconstruction of Iraq.

As we know, the reconstruction has been a bodged job (to put it mildly). However, even if it had been a beacon of success, it seems a strange stance to take to happily stand by whilst a country is being bombed to smithereens merely on the promise of being allowed to rebuild it again.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Blair's Fanaticism

Tony Blair has started to give evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war.

What is striking, to me at least, is that he displays the same degree of fanaticism as the terrorists he sought to fight.

"..Those of us who dealt with terrorism by the IRA [knew] their terrorism was directed towards political purposes, it was within a framework you could understand. That completely changed from that moment – Iran, Libya, North Korea, Iraq ... All of this had to be brought to an end..."

It seems to me that had the Iraq invasion been a "success", then the US and UK would have happily wandered the globe regime changing (and starting wars) at will.

I well recall Blair giving a speech a few years ago in which he said that Afghanistan had become a "crucible" in the fight against terror.

All very well, but did the people who live in that country ask for it to be turned into a crucible?

Sadly fanaticism occurs in "democracies", not just dictatorships.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


It seems that the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war is operating with at least one hand tied behind its back.

During yesterday's questioning of Lord Goldsmith (the government's attorney general at the time of the Iraq war) it emerged that the government has not sanctioned the release of documents that show how Lord Goldsmith's legal advice changed.

Neither Sir John Chilcot nor Lord Goldsmith were particularly happy that they could not refer to these secret memos.

An inquiry that is hampered in this way, will produce a result of very little substance.

That of course is exactly what Gordon Brown wanted when he sanctioned the inquiry.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Bleedin' Obvious

Lord Goldsmith, Labour's attorney general at the time of the Iraq war, has told the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war that he believed that there was no immediate threat from Saddam Hussein that justified the use of force.

It was obvious at the time to all and sundry, even those who were not top flight lawyers, that Saddam posed no credible immediate threat.

Goldsmith then went on to say that, in his view, regime change was not a legitimate basis for the invasion.

Then why did he materially alter his legal advice in the run up to war, and perform a U turn?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No Legal Basis

Sir Michael Wood, the most senior legal adviser at the Foreign Office at the time of the Iraq invasion, told the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war that he disagreed with the advice of Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general, that military intervention was lawful.

In a written statement he said:

"I considered that the use of force against Iraq in March 2003 was contrary to international law."

Sir Michael also wrote to Jack Straw on January 24 2003 outlining his concerns with comments Straw made to then-US vice president Dick Cheney in Washington.

Straw told Cheney that Britain would "prefer" a second resolution, but it would be "OK" if they tried and failed to get one "a la Kosovo".

Sir Michael wrote:

"I hope there is no doubt in anyone's mind that, without a further decision of the Council, and absent extraordinary circumstances of which at present there is no sign, the UK cannot lawfully use force against Iraq to ensure compliance with its Security Council WMD resolution."

Straw rejected the advice, on the basis the international law was very vague.

The government of the day was looking for ways to justify and enact a decision that it had already been made. The alleged "vagueness" of international law gave them what they thought to be a hook onto which to hang their arguments, albeit ever so tenuous.

Chemical Ali Executed

Ali Hassan al-Majid, aka "Chemical Ali", has been executed by hanging, an Iraqi government spokesman has announced.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Unmagic Wand

Iraqi authorities are more than a little "peeved" at finding out that they may well have been sold a British sourced bomb detector that in fact doesn't detect bombs.

The Iraqi government has formed a commission to investigate the ADE651, known as the "magic wand".

Iraq has spent $85M on the "magic wand".

Britain banned the export of the device (manufactured by the British-based ATSC Company) last week, after tests showed that it was not suitable for bomb detection.

The British police also arrested ATSC Director Jim McCormick, on suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chilcot Does A Volte Face

Sir John Chilcot, had said that he would not call Gordon Brown to the inquiry into the Iraq war ahead of the general election, in order to avoid its hearings becoming caught up in party politics.

However, Brown has since written to Sir John advising him that he is prepared to attend pre election (if called next month).

Bowing to the inevitable, Sir John has asked Brown to attend in the next month and said that he had invited Gordon Brown to give evidence to the Iraq inquiry "as a matter of fairness".

Aside from blowing the schedule of the inquiry out of the water, this volte face (in the face of political pressure) also severely damages the credibility and authority of the inquiry.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Asking For Trouble

Sir David Omand, Blair's former security co-ordinator, told the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war that claiming Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which could be used within 45 minutes in a dossier was "asking for trouble".

He also stated that Blair and the government were warned that the proposed course of action in Iraq could draw "large numbers" to Islamic extremism.

So many people in government, at the time that these decisions were being made, seemed to know that the case for war was flawed.

Yet they still went ahead with it!

In other news, Gordon Brown has said that he will appear before the Chilcot Inquiry anytime they want him.

Let them take him at his word, and call him before the election.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Truth Will Out

Geoff Hoon, ex defence minister and "expert" on regime change (both in Iraq and the Labour Party), has appeared before the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war.

He lost no opportunity in putting the boot into Gordon Brown, by noting that he had cut the budget for helicopters in 2003.

He also stated that the post invasion US planning was chaotic, indeed he admitted that he knew that before the war actually started.

He also noted that planning in the UK had started too late, and had written to Tony Blair complaining that no one had been identified to succeed Saddam Hussein.

Such a "pity" for the people of Iraq, and the troops who are dying out there, that these concerns were not made public at the time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Blair Got It Wrong

Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's aide during his time in office, told the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war that Blair's assumption that Saddam Hussein had WMD was (in the cruel light of reality) wrong.

Blair went to war based on a long-standing "assumption" that Saddam Hussein still possessed weapons of mass destruction, because he had used them in the past.

Blair was once described at school as being lazy when it came to details. True to form when deciding to go to war, rather than use up to date detailed intelligence, he based is decision on past assumptions.

Powell told the inquiry that intelligence on Saddam's WMD was not the pivotal factor in the decision to go to war in Iraq.

Powell is quoted in the Telegraph telling the inquiry:

"Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction. We were wrong. The intelligence was wrong.

When our forces went in, we were absolutely amazed to discover there weren't any weapons of mass destruction

When asked if he had any concerns about the intelligence not being up to date, Powell said:

"We had an assumption, and we had that assumption because Saddam Hussein had lied about using WMD and he had lied about getting rid of them. We had bombed Iraq in 1998 on that basis and it would have taken some quite strong evidence to suggest he had got rid of them.

We didn't really have any doubts about it and I don't think other people had any doubts about it

Beware leaders who rush to war without doubts, they will lead themselves and their people to destruction.

Monday, January 18, 2010


In Iraq it has been announced that "Chemical Ali" will be executed in a few days, for ordering the gassing of 5,000 Kurds in the Iraqi town of Halabja. Ali Hassan al-Majid will die by hanging.

Meanwhile in the UK, Tony Blair can expect a less "final" outcome from his forthcoming appearance before the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war.

A public ballot will be held today for people wanting seats (60 are available) to watch Blair when he appears later his month/February.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Legal Advice Changed

Lord Turnbull, who was Cabinet secretary in the run up to the Iraq war, told the Chilcot Inquiry into the war that there were important differences between the final legal opinion Lord Goldsmith (the then Attorney General) presented to the Cabinet and an earlier version he gave privately to Tony Blair.

"It was not, in my view, a summary of what had been produced 10 days earlier. It was materially different in some respects because of the passage of time.

Certain things had changed

Why such large changes over such a short period of time?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Campbell Finds God

Alastair Campbell claims on his blog today that he found a passage from the Bible to be useful, wrt preparing him to face the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war yesterday.

Doubtless God, were he/she to exist, would be pleased to have helped out!

Given the fact that Campbell has spent his working life in/with/using the media, he doesn't seem to like the media very much.

Signs of self loathing perhaps?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

We Are Absolutely With You

Alastair Campbell (Tony Blair's ex spin doctor) is facing the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war.

He has told the inquiry that Blair wrote to the US president in 2002, assuring him of Britain's support. According to Campbell the essence of the message was:

"We share the analysis.

We share the concern.

We are absolutely with you in making sure that Saddam Hussein faces up to his obligations, and that Iraq is disarmed.

If that can't be done diplomatically, and it has to done militarily, we would definitely be there.

That is the tenor of his communications with the president

He also denied claims made by Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain's then ambassador to the US, about Blair's meeting with George Bush at Crawford in April 2002.

"If you are saying to me 'Do I agree with Christopher Meyer's analysis that at Crawford the Prime Minister shifted his position from one of containment and disarmament through the UN to one of regime change?'

I don't.

I don't accept this analysis that at Crawford there was a fundamental shift in approach and policy by the Prime Minister

For good measure he also made sure that Gordon Brown could not wriggle free of responsibility, by noting that Blair talked to Brown a lot about Iraq.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Sexed Up Dossier

Claims that Alastair Campbell, Blair's spin doctor, sexed up the Iraq dossier have resurfaced.

The Guardian claims that the dossier was changed, on the instructions of Alastair Campbell, to fit with claims from the US administration that were known to be false.

The pre-invasion dossier's worst-case estimate of how long it would take Iraq to acquire a nuclear weapon was shortened in response to a George Bush speech, from two years to one.

Campbell will appear before the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war tomorrow. Given his skills at handling an aggressive media, and the softness of the Chiclot panel, it is likely he will easily get through it unscathed.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

US Slowed British Troop Withdrawal

Simon McDonald, Gordon Brown's foreign affairs adviser, has told the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war that the US pressured the UK to withdraw its troops a "bit more slowly" from Iraq.

Brown originally announced he wanted to cut the British force from more than 4,000 to 2,500 during 2008.

However, this was adjusted following discussions with the US over an Iraqi attempt to take control of Basra from militia groups.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Blair's Daily Instructions

The Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war has resumed, with the revelation that Tony Blair made daily phone calls to Sir William Patey (the British ambassador in Iraq 2005-2006) to give institutions as to what needed to be done to stabilise the country.

All very well, maybe.

However, as Sir William wryly pointed out, the instructions "weren't in my gift or solely in the gift of the British government".

It seems that there was a reality gap in expectations between what Blair (in London wanted), and what could actually be achieved on the ground in Iraq.


"There was a tension between the desire for instant results and the realities on the ground. What you could achieve in the sort of timescales that London needed for political reasons; there was a disconnect."

Sir William's most scathing comment attacks the very style and "substance" (of which there is little) of Labour and its governing "style" itself:

"What could be delivered on PowerPoint could not necessarily be delivered on earth."

Monday, January 04, 2010


The media reports that Prince Charles, who had access to the same intelligence papers and briefing notes that Tony Blair had in the run up to the invasion of Iraq, lobbied senior politicians against invading Iraq.

Reports state that the Prince referred to Blair as "our glorious leader", and stated that going to war would be "madness".

However, those who hope for clarification of these reports in the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry into the war will be disappointed.

Paddy Harverson, the Prince's communications secretary, stated that Prince Charles would not cooperate with any such request from the Inquiry. Communications between the Royal Family and government are private.